Why the Summer Zervos Lawsuit Against President Trump Matters

Since taking workplace, President Trump and his legal representatives have consistently trotted out the argument that this President is above the law. Whether stating he has “the outright right” to do what he desires with the Justice Department, or looking for to prevent litigation versus him with claims of resistance, the President all frequently claims to be the king of the castle, not President of a democratic country. Tuesday’s viewpoint from Judge Schechter of the New York Supreme Court in the Summer Zervos character assassination case versus Trump appropriately declines these claims. The first sentence, “No one is above the law.” might not be clearer. Nobody, not even and maybe specifically not the President of the United States is completely immune from a fit.

The case includes previous Apprentice Participant Summer Zervos, who is taking legal action against President Trump for libel because he called her a phony after she implicated him of sexual misbehavior. The match was submitted in January of 2017, quickly before inauguration day, in state court in New York, where Zervos and Trump both lived at the time. Trump reacted to the fit with the argument that– because he is now President– he can not be taken legal action against in state court. Trump’s legal representatives argued that a constitutional arrangement making the Constitution and federal laws the supreme unwritten law avoids state courts from hearing cases versus a sitting President. Simply puts, Trump’s argument is that because the President holds a crucial federal workplace he cannot be taken legal action against in a state court. As the New York court kept in mind, the United States Supreme Court made it clear 20 years ago that the President’s workplace does not place him beyond the reach of the courts in Clinton v. Jones, a case including noticeably comparable situations. (That was the unwanted sexual advances fit brought by Paula Jones versus President Clinton over his conduct while he was Governor of Arkansas.) Because civil match, the Supreme Court ruled all that a president can be taken legal action against in a civil case based upon his personal conduct before taking workplace. For wrongful conduct not falling within his main tasks, the President undergoes fit much like other American.

My company Protects Democracy, a cross-partisan non-profit, submitted the only buddy of the court quick in the Zervos case. We did so on behalf of 3 constitutional law teachers who also submitted a quick 20 years back in the Clinton v. Jones case. Although the political party of the President has changed, the arguments the teachers advanced are the very same: that the President of the United States is not immune from civil match for his personal conduct. That concept is just as real in state court as in federal court. The New York Court got it ideal in its viewpoint today, discussing that “Nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even recommends that the President can not be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive duty.” Some people stressed after Clinton v. Jones that there would be a flood of meritless litigation versus Presidents in their personal capability just to bother them. But neither President George W. Bush nor President Barack Obama ended up being the target of extensive vexatious litigation. That might not apply for this President if he’s done things he should not have and for which the victims are entitled to look for legal relief.

As an outcome of Tuesday’s choice, Zervos’s case can move on, and the President will need to face her accusations like anybody else would. And if others have been damaged by an infraction of state law by Trump in his personal capacity, they can too. The presidency pays for Trump considerable power and advantage– but in our nation, the law still rules supreme. After this choice, it will be much more difficult for Trump to make the argument, “When you’re president, they let you do it.”